Why you always proof read

So I received an email the other day from the personal assistant to a businessman I know. As is my practice, I went to load her information in my address book. I noticed she had misspelled her own email address in her own email signature. I sent her a private email to let her know before her boss noticed.

This put me in mind of the importance of making sure all your business documents say what you intend them to, ESPECIALLY when doing business in a foreign language. One of the services PassageMaker offers our clients is help drafting the language on their purchase orders. Many of our clients come to us after having a bad experience or two in China, and it is amazing how vague some of their purchase orders are.

The Chinese legal system is rapidly improving and a properly written purchase order is a binding contract that can be the difference between getting raked over the coals and being the one doing the raking.

I see similar issues with design databases. Drawings are often given to us with no material specifications, no finish specs, etc. I had a drawing once from an client that specified “aluminum”. When I asked his engineer what type, he responded that he didn’t think it mattered. This for a part to be subjected to high heat and load stress – you’re darned tootin’ it matters.

We have also received drawings specifying titanium fasteners. After wasting time looking for these very hard to find fasteners, the project engineer in the USA tells us that he just cut and pasted the fastener drawing and forgot to change the material spec. Two seconds of his time would have saved two days of our team’s time.

This kind of BS is why we have Endorsed Service Providers. Choosing with the cheapest guy is very rarely the best deal.

Another area where we frankly NEED our clients to proofread is our Product Quality Manual (PQM), the core of our Assembly-Inspection-Packaging service. As Mike Bellamy says, “we are generalists; we depend on the client to be the expert”. We take the lead on drafting the PQM, and submit it to the client for approval, but once they sign off on it, that is what we are going to do, no more, no less. It becomes our warranty and if the client forgets to tell us something, once they approve the document, that is now the official record. We’ll happily amend the PQM for the next order, but if it wasn’t written down, not my fault.

Our system incorporates four (4) levels of approval before it is sent to the client for final approval. From the speed at which some clients approve the document, I know they barely looked at it. I would rather have a 17 page response as we got from one client than a signature 20 minutes later.

Doing things right takes time, but nowhere near as much time as doing things over. If your project is valuable enough to bring to market, you have time for some proof reading.

PS – I have dyslexia, and have proof-read this damn post five times looking for typos. I bet you all find at least one in spite of that effort.

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